Lawrence Surgery Center will now have bigger rooms, better technology at LMH West

photo by: Nick Krug

A surgery room at LMH West pictured on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020 at LMH West.

After 20 years at its former location, the Lawrence Surgery Center will have a new home within LMH West, and with it some new high-tech equipment.

Scott Thellman, a plastic surgeon with Lawrence Plastic Surgery, helped establish the Lawrence Surgery Center, and has also had a hand in discussions about the new facility.

“A few years back we recognized we were going to be adding additional procedures and adding additional cases and recognized that really we had just outgrown the space,” Thellman said of the former location at 1112 W. Sixth St. “That happened to coincide with LMH making plans to move forward with the new facility out west.”

The new surgery center, located on the second floor of LMH West, will continue to be a joint partnership between area surgeons and LMH West.

Jared Abel, the administrator of the Lawrence Surgery Center, said the new facility — and all of LMH West in general — is a patient-first setting that allows for collaborative health care. He and Thellman spoke about some of the upgraded aspects of the new surgery center, including bigger rooms, video integration equipment, outpatient joint replacement services and high imaging capabilities at the nearby Imaging Center.

Larger rooms with video integration equipment

Thellman and Abel both mentioned the size of the six new operating rooms.

“We’ve been pretty crowded where we are and space has been pretty tight,” Thellman said, adding that the new space will better serve the patients and staff inside. They could’ve purchased any new machine or equipment for the old facility, Thellman said, but without the room for the equipment and the extra staff, it wouldn’t have been possible to use it.

Abel also noted that the larger rooms helped accommodate the amount of equipment and allowed for the installation of some new technology. The bigger rooms also create a safer environment from a disease investigation standpoint, he noted.

Abel mentioned that every operating room will be equipped with video integration technology, which will allow staff to see information from a patient’s medical record in the operating room. Previously, the surgeons had laptops they could bring in to look at a patient’s medical history, but Abel said it was not as convenient or easy.

The video integration technology is important, Abel said, as it allows the surgeon to see and understand an issue as they are working on the patient.

Outpatient joint replacement

Thellman called one of the biggest offerings of the new center the capability for a patient to have an outpatient joint replacement surgery.

Typically, joint replacements require multiple-night stays at a hospital, Abel said, but the bigger operating rooms will allow some patients receiving joint replacements to leave that same day or the following morning. Abel said that total joint procedures require a lot of instruments, imaging equipment, additional staff members and specific tables and devices.

“The current surgery center was not designed to accommodate all of the additional support needed in the operating rooms to perform these types of cases,” he said. “The larger rooms at West were designed and constructed to accommodate all the additional resources required.”

Abel said not every patient will be a candidate for outpatient joint replacement, but that the center will have the capabilities to do same-day hip and knee replacements.

Abel said that the size of the operating rooms, as well as advances in technology and training, will allow the surgery center at LMH West to join other facilities nationwide in providing these same-day procedures.

Imaging technology

Abel said high-tech equipment in the imaging center, which is close to the surgery center on the second floor, will help surgeons in their procedures.

“Our imaging capabilities out there … are truly second to none,” Abel said.

Tom Wells, director of imaging services, said that while the technology used at LMH Health’s Maine Street location is exceptional, there will be a higher level of technology at the West Campus.

A 3D X-ray unit at LMH West will be the first of its kind in Kansas, he said, and it allows for a patient to stand while two robotic arms spin around them, capturing a 3D image.

Wells said X-ray units are generally fixed in place, but that this X-ray unit will allow for a patient to stand practically anywhere in the room. This is particularly helpful for patients in a wheelchair, Wells said, as they can briefly stand but have their wheelchair next to them for support.

Abel said that as of May the 3D X-ray equipment is one of 35 such machines to be installed in the United States.

In addition to this X-ray unit, LMH West will also have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine with 3-tesla strength. This will give a more detailed and quicker scan. The other MRI in LMH West will be 1.5-tesla strength. Abel said the 3-tesla MRI will give greater detail of smaller joints.

Patient flow and ‘a great team to make it all work’

Abel said he believes patients will notice the modern feel of the space as well as its convenience.

For patients undergoing surgery, there are pre- and post-operation rooms. The pre-operation rooms do not have windows, but the recovery rooms do, LMH Health spokesperson Amy Northrop said, to provide a sense of peace.

There will also be some natural light in the operation rooms themselves, which Northrop said should give surgeons and staff some sense of normalcy.

Thellman, Abel and Wells all reiterated that while there will be some new technology and capabilities at LMH West, that does not mean the care at the Maine Street location or at the former Lawrence Surgery Center is or was anything subpar.

Buying technology is easy, Thellman said. It just takes money. Placing that technology in the hands of capable people is what is important, Thellman said.

“As much as we all get enamored with the latest and the greatest in technology,” Thellman said, “we’ve got a great team to make it all work” and “a facility large enough” to handle more complex procedures.

The management and surgeons at the Lawrence Surgery Center will remain steadfast at the new location, Thellman said. All the best parts of the former location, he said, are moving west.

“What we’re leaving behind is just a facility that’s too small,” he said. “We’ve got 20 years of success behind us and we’re trying to look forward to the next 20 years.”


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